Conversationally Speaking

Good communication starts with good conversation. How well do you communicate with others; verbally and nonverbally? Your ability to communicate well transcends into all aspects of your life.

To gauge your conversational skills; you need constructive critical feedback from some one else. Request that your spouse, a friend, or a coworker candidly evaluate your conversational skills. The following criteria can be used for an honest evaluation:

      Are you self centered or focused on others?
      Do you dominate the conversation and talk too much or do you involve others in the dialogue?
      Is your glass half empty or half full when discussing general topics?
      Do you draw others into the conversation or do you monopolize?
      Do you smile often while talking, laugh easily, and respond genuinely or are you solemn and maintain a poker face?
      Do you have interesting things to say or are you often greeted with blank faces?
      Can you discuss items outside of job and home or do you engage discussions of many different topics?
      Do you use colorful language and often embarrass those whom you are speaking to or do you control you tongue?
      Do you use enthusiasm and a variation of tones and sound patterns or are you monotone and unexpressive?

The person that you have chosen to help you can easily go through this list and provide feedback that you may not like. However, that is the first step in becoming a good communicator.

The next time you enter into a conversation; observe yourself, are you encouraging dialogue or are you performing a monologue? Did you ask open ended questions that draw out discussion from the people you are with or are you asking closed ended questions that elicit one word answers and limit what the other party might say?

Start each conversation with the goal of listening more and speaking less! You become a better communicator by listening than by speaking. People love to talk about themselves as well as topics that energize them; focus the conversation on their desires and you will instantly build repore. Not by what you have said; but by what you have asked. When that conversation is finished; they will recognize how excellent you are at communicating because they will believe that you genuinely care.

If you are one of the many people who are not comfortable entering into a conversation or speaking in front of people; the solution is not as difficult as you believe. The key is being yourself and listening more than speaking. Be prepared to ask the right questions. If you are in a business setting; you can always start by asking what work do they do or what type of projects are they working on and build on that by asking follow up questions. Ask about where they are from and again ask follow up questions regarding that region; is it farm country or more urban. Asking questions regarding family, children or their heritage can also lead to more conversation. The key is listening more and speaking less.

If you have determined either through self evaluation or from constructive criticism from someone else that you are not a good listener; try this exercise. Try going to a week of meetings and saying absolutely nothing unless you are directly asked to speak or required to give a report. Instead of speaking; spend the week observing others. Spend the next week observing the speaker’s face, eyes, voice, body language, and all nonverbal signs; write them on a notepad. What if you will not be in formal meetings all week; no problem, every person you talk to is a meeting and an opportunity to communicate, the same principles apply.

This will be the first exercise to help you become a better conversationalist and a better communicator. By now you have determined that even though this article is about speaking and good communication; listening and observing are the keys to success, not speaking. A good communicator listens 60 to 70% of the time and speaks 30 to 40% of the time depending on the application.

The moral of the story: If you are talking more than you are listening; you are probably failing on your communication!

McGuire Coaching LLC is a business coaching and strategic development company. Their coaches work with business owners, management, and employees to overcome challenges and succeed in their business lives and personal lives. Contact McGuire Coaching LLC at 937-383-4000 or

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